STH and SDEV speak to the media after meeting with two members-elect of Legislative Council
Reporter: Secretary, could you tell us if government officials made any secret deals with rural leaders through these informal talks, and as a result, in order to protect those vested interests? And Secretary Paul Chan, is it a government policy to develop brownfield sites first when it comes to housing and in this case, we are seeing a green belt site being touched on but not those owned by developers, can you explain why?
Secretary for Transport and Housing: I am glad that you brought up this question, because I noticed yesterday there was an allegation that some senior government officials made a guarantee that there would not be further phases of development of Wang Chau. I have checked yesterday, I have checked my relevant colleagues in the Housing Department and the Transport and Housing Bureau. There is no such case. My colleagues have never made any such alleged guarantee or commitment. As far as the bureau is concerned, the second and third phases of Wang Chau development are still on our drawing board. Of course, we realise the challenges we are facing. How do we deal with the brownfield operation? How do we deal with various environmental and traffic impact issues? So we have to be ready in terms of how to deal with these issues before we take forward the second phase and the third phase of the development.
Secretary for Development: If I may answer the second part of the question that is related to the development of various possible sites for land supply purposes. As you know, the shortage in housing and land supply is indeed very acute. We cannot afford doing things in sequence. So what we are doing at the moment, as previously announced, is a multi-pronged approach. What we have been doing is to try to push different initiatives at the same time. On one hand, you have seen us rezoning different sites, including green belt sites. On the other hand, we are also pushing very hard on brownfield sites. But for brownfield sites, as you may notice, there are a lot of different issues that need to be tackled. For example, brownfield sites are not vacant sites - there are port back-up operations, recycle workshops, and car repair and maintenance workshops. These operations offer quite a lot of employment, particularly for those people living in the area. So, when we deal with brownfield sites, we have to tackle the issue of re-provisioning. Let me give you an example. In the North East New Territories New Development Areas (NENT NDAs) ....
Reporter: But my question is about Wang Chau, not the overall plan.
Secretary for Development: Professor Cheung has explained the Wang Chau site. I am explaining to you the Government's overall approach towards brownfield sites, and this is something that we are trying very hard. The NENT NDAs is an example that deals with over 50 hectares of brownfield sites. We announced two weeks ago the Revised Recommended Development Plan for Hung Shui Kiu NDA which has completed three stages of public engagement, and we are going to announce the Outline Zoning Plan early next year. The development there will tackle about 190 hectares of brownfield sites. In addition, the Yuen Long South development will deal with another 100 hectares of brownfield sites. So, we are not ignorant of the fact that these brownfield sites need to be tackled, but we have to deal with them in a proper manner. We have already commenced a consultancy study on how to move some of these operations into multi-storey buildings. We are going to embark upon a territory-wide survey to ascertain how many hectares of such brownfield sites are out there. The information will assist us in better tackling those brownfield sites in stages.
Reporter: Why would there be no record of informal meetings? Why wouldn't there be any public consultations? Will you go and talk to some of the affected villagers?
Secretary for Transport and Housing: Informal contact, it could be in the form of a sit-down meeting, or it could be in the form of ... I am talking about in general, not the Wang Chau case. I’ve yet to find out from my colleagues on what actually happened in terms of the informal contact. But informal discussion, informal contact, by definition, it means it is informal, and therefore it could take the shape of various forms. I mean, as Secretary, as I said earlier when I have breakfast with a LegCo Member, well, that is informal contact as well. I do not have a practice of making notes of such meetings, breakfast meetings. But of course, if it is a less informal interaction maybe there would be some brief notes prepared. But in this case, I have asked my Housing Department colleagues to check, to see whether we have any record of such contacts.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Thursday, September 15, 2016
Issued at HKT 20:43
Issued at HKT 20:43